Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Blue Mountain Outfitters Visit

Now this real birch-bark canoe is just for display among the outfitter's
new boats.  Soon it will be hoisted into the rafter, so we're glad we had
the change to see it up close.

When I had gone to Blue Mountain Outfitters (BMO) to obtain repair parts for Ibi’s broken rudder cable, I had been invited to take my time and look around. I was rushing to get the rudder fixed, so time didn’t feel like it was something I had a lot of. However, one of the days we were sitting in the RV in rain, wind, and cold, we seemed to have nothing but time, so we returned to BMO to spend a couple relaxed hours just poking around. I was impressed. BMO really has a comprehensive inventory. Probably the greatest incentive for visiting a good outfitter is being able to see and handle a lot of gear we’ve only seen pictures of in a catalog or magazine. This is even more true when it comes to seeing, comparing, and sitting in their wide choices of boats. Whether your interests lean more toward kayaks, canoes, tandems, solos, fishing, whitewater, playboats, expedition or camping, the list goes on and they all seem to be there.

BMO's home is an old railroad station that is chock-a-block with gear, hardware,
paddles, apparel, and anything else you can think of.  Boats?  They not only fill
the train station, but another few outbuildings beyond.

Another advantage of keeping in touch with a good outfitter is they don’t just want to sell you stuff. They work to make sure you make smart choices and have the gear that’s best fitted to both you and the kind of paddling you wish to pursue. For example, recently (May 19 & 20) BMO hosted a boat show day where they had representatives of a number of boat builders present. They had a bunch of boats in the water of the Susquehanna to try out as you were getting answers to your questions and tips from BMO instructors. After you had compared model against model and talked with the folks that actually built the boats, if you found the boat for you and bought it while you were there, you received a ten-percent discount. Even if you were to walk away without a boat, you would walk away with more knowledge, and have enjoyed a great opportunity to spend a day on and around the water with folks that share your love of paddling and the outdoors. Keeping in touch with an outfitter close to you can help you tap into a lot of the activities they try to put together.

If you need to cross the four lanes of traffic in front of BMO, you need to use the
steps that go down into a tunnel that spans the roadway, and then climb up the other
side.  The several tunnels together are also used by vehicles, which seem
to jump up at you from underground.

We came away with a few things. I’ve been looking for a good seat cushion to fit Ibi’s tractor seat. I had ordered an NRS cushion, but it had a rigid back that was intended to be secured to a flat seat. Then I’ve seen some nice gel seat cushions I feared would get hot. BMO has a gel cushion that is enclosed in a heavy-duty cover with adjustable straps that go under the tractor seat to hold the cushion in place. Having had a couple chances to try it so far, I think it fits the bill (or butt) perfectly.

For planning purposes, Jean got me a copy of “Maryland and Delaware Canoe Trails”, 5th Edition, by Edward Gertler. (300pp., 2002, Seneca Press, Silver Springs, MD) So, to accompany the guide, I added the Delaware-Maryland DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer. During the bad weather that plagued us through our visit, this combo provided a lot of satisfying armchair paddling. Gertler says he has paddled or portaged every mile of every route in the book, and provides water conditions, hazards, gauges, gradients, levels of difficulty, distances and times for each leg, and the quality of scenery to be expected, plus a map of each route.

Credit: goodreads.com

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